9 sustainable reasons for vertical farming

Vertical farming Or also called 'closed multilayer cultivation in controlled conditions'. A difficult description for a concept that is actually not that complicated. In a vertical farm, plants are grown in different layers one above the other, in an enclosed space. Light, humidity, temperature, water supply, soil composition: this is all decided according to the exact needs of the plants, At Colruyt Group, we have designed and built such a system, with sustainability in mind. It’s something we are very proud of.

Sustainable, from seed to packaging

What do you mean, do plants have an ecological footprint? Yes, they certainly do. You can calculate this by looking at the entire life span of that plant. For example, you add up all the water and fertilisers that the plant needs to grow. The same for light and the heat and even transport to the store. How long does the plant live? Is the packaging fully recyclable? This is called a life cycle assessment (LCA). We made that entire calculation for the basil plants from our vertical farm. Our ambition: to supply herbs in our shops that have a very small ecological footprint.

Boni basil
Our vertical farm creates the ideal growing conditions for plants. As a result, we only use the amount of energy or raw materials that is strictly necessary.

9 times sustainable

  • Specially dosed nutrients
    The plants are given special doses of nutrients, depending on the growth stage. Exactly the amount they need to grow properly. And if a plant is does not absorb all the nutrients, we reuse them. The result: a saving of 50%.
  • Rainwater
    Here too: not too much, not too little. Each plant gets exactly the right amount of water. As a result, our vertical farm uses 90% less water than conventional cultivation. Furthermore, we only use (filtered) rain water.
  • Local production
    The vertical farm is close to our distribution centre. This saves transport kilometres.
  • No pesticides
    The herbs are not treated with pesticides or plant protection products. 100% natural!
  • Less space required
    Our vertical farm needs up to 20 times less space for the same amount of plants than 'conventional' cultivation. Working with multiple layers saves quite a lot of agricultural and natural land.
Boni basil packaging
With our Boni Selection label we work every day on more sustainable products and ranges. Vertical farming fits perfectly with this.

• Sustainable packaging
Our goal is to use as little material as possible, which must be recyclable. However, the packaging must, of course, protect the plant well during transport. After thorough research of materials, we have found the perfect packaging. It exists for 50% out of paper, which you can recycle in the paper bin. The other half is PET, also recyclable in the blue PMD bag. This way, we keep our environmental footprint low. On the packaging, we also give advice on how to take care of the plant so that you can enjoy it longer. And that leads to less foodwaste.

• Green energy
The system runs on green electricity from our own wind turbines and solar panels. Energy efficient is our codeword: even the LED lighting is twice as efficient as the current standard on the market.

• No soil, but recyclable residue flows
The substrate of the plants is a combination of recyclable residue flows. By using residue flows, we don’t need to use new raw materials and we can keep or ecological footprint low.

• Long shelf life
Thanks to the adapted light and the specific cultivation technique, the basil plants are not only fuller in taste, but also stronger. If you take care of them, you can keep them for a lot longer.

From spring 2020 at Bio-Planet

The test phase of our vertical farm is still in progress. But in the spring of 2020, we would like to be selling the first herbs (basil and coriander) at Bio-Planet. We will keep you updated!

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With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Responsible consumption & production